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The Shadowkiller B E H I N D  T H E  B O O K

I've been fascinated by Bigfoot most of my life and have read a great deal about it. While there is a sizable body of non-fiction work supporting the case for Bigfoot, the shelf of good Bigfoot fiction is limited. In other media, from the comics to television, Bigfoot has often been a joke. I remember years ago watching in stunned horror as Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man, battled a hokey Bigfoot who looked more like a huge homeless guy. Not long after that I read a novel in which a twenty-foot-tall Bigfoot with a laser in his head (calling Dr. Evil) terrorized a ski resort. And lately the Sci-Fi Channel has seemingly cranked out a Bigfoot film every month (oddly enough, all starring Lance Henricksen). For the record, my favorite Bigfoot movie, 1957's Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, isn't even about Bigfoot, but rather, his cousin, the yeti.

Check out the cool mini-film on this site! (click on graphic)
More Bigfoot links here
The problem I have with most of what's out there in popular culture is that little of it is based on either what is known about Bigfoot or even basic anthropology. In movies, Bigfoot usually comes across as a product of the imagination of some over zealous effects designer rather than a real, living being who is probably just a few protein strands away from being us.

And while I feel that Bigfoot is mostly shy and passive, it certainly has the physical tools to defend itself...or more. My thesis with this book was simple: if Bigfoot exists, and is an upper primate, then Bigfoot can exhibit varied behavioral characteristics just as any of its cousins (i.e., gorillas, chimps or humans) can. And, given sufficient provocation, it would be a frightful adversary, because of its strength and brains. Storytellers are always on the lookout for worthy antagonists so I figured such a contest made for a damn good story.

Since my main assumption in writing this book was that Bigfoot exists, I let the characters deal with that reality in their own ways. I also felt the information about Bigfoot needed to be somewhat transparent, rather than slowing down the story with too much scientific speculation and technical exposition.

What the reader can be assured of, in the creation of my Bigfoot—his behavior, physical appearance, habits, even the sounds he makes—are all based upon both assumed taxonomic characteristics (like comparative anthropology) and empirical information (such as sightings, etc.) For example, his voice. All upper primates have their own specific and varied forms of communication, and it seems that at least some element of Bigfoot "language" employs unique whistles and trills. Yet they have also been heard letting loose with frightening bellows like the character in my book. Since my Bigfoot has none of his own to talk to (directly related to his displeasure with human beings) he roars rather than trills.

My extrapolation here was pretty straightforward: since a six foot tall silverback gorilla can utter a frighteningly deep growl, a ten plus foot tall primate must have a fearsome roar. I once read an account by a close observer of an angry Bigfoot who described its scream as "tearing sheet metal." I loved that so I put it in the book. Also, over the years I've listened to many purported Bigfoot audio recordings, including the extensive Sierra Sounds, so I drew from them. Probably the most chilling recording I've heard was a camcorder audio track a friend made while camping in the Okanogan in Washington State several years back. Even in the safe confines of my home office the unearthly howls far below the campers in a canyon late in the night still gives me goose bumps. This ain't no ursa, this ain't no cougar, this ain't no foolin' around...

Click here to read 10 questions with Matt about The Shadowkiller.

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